While many of Althouse’s commenters are threatening to leave or, more humorously, to strike, she did attract a useful idiot recently who goes by the name of Rob Prideaux. (If it’s this guy, and I think it is, he’s a photographer of no small talent.) The funny thing, of course, is that the useful idiots outlived their usefulness, by outliving the empire they served (knowingly or not).
Mr. Prideaux appeared in this thread about Condi Rice being objected to by one of Stanford’s finest, in defense of the academic system and liberals in general. Of course, many fine commenters at Althouse are liberal and not a few work in the university system, so there’s not much there there as far as defending the system from evil conservatives goes.
Prideaux’s argument began thus: “…how did all the neocons make it through university free of the indoctrination? How did the free market capitalists make it out with their free market theories intact?” In other words, to this fellow, if anyone escapes the system without an anti-free market mindset, that exonerates the system; it proves that the indoctrination doesn’t exist, or if it does exist, isn’t very effective and therefore not important.
He continues on this same vein, “What I think I’m saying is this: hyperbolic statements about all-powerful, unavoidable left wing indoctrination throughout the educational system are also dishonest.” Of course, no one actually argues that there is “all-powerful, unavoidable left wing indoctrination throughout the educational system”, only that there is left wing indoctrination and that the left is heavily overrepresented in the system, and given a freedom to indoctrinate that is one-sided.
To support his argument, he points to election results and says (my encapsulation of his argument), “See! If this indoctrination were going on, the Democrats would win by wider and wider margins! Since they don’t, QED, no indoctrination.” And he means this sincerely, which is the sad thing.
McCain–the allegedly not liberal candidate–was talking about the government buying up bad mortgages in his final gasps. And, of course, Obama went on to replace George W. Bush, who spent eight years expanding government worse than Clinton did. (But not worse than Clinton wanted to, which tells you something about any given party getting control of the legislative and executive branches.)
GHW Bush wasn’t much better, if at all, and even Reagan could only hold “the beast” level. His big idea, and the one that launched the Republicans in to power in ‘94, was the radical notion that government could and must be shrunk. “The era of big government is over,” lamented Clinton, with a fired-up Republican Congress at his back.
But even then, in what now we might refer to as the “salad days”, the minds of people have been thoroughly indoctrinated to believe that, e.g., the government not handing out checks to poor people is a bad thing. It’s unthinkable that the government not manage retirement of old people. It’s monstrous to suggest that health and medicine be beyond the government’s scope of activities.
The liberal indoctrination is so thorough that it’s political suicide to suggest reforming social security, even while everyone agrees the plan is doomed (except for the short period when W was trying to reform it and the Democrats decided suddenly that it was just hunky dory).
More tragically, a smart–and I think honest, though you can never tell–guy like this is so thoroughly indoctrinated with leftist ideas that he can’t tell the difference between education and indoctrination. He thinks there isn’t any.
I’m pretty sure that would give Goldstein conniptions. In this view, education is basically indoctrination by whomever holds the power. There is no neutrality or objectivity. This viewpoint has, of course, destroyed the humanities, but we’ve seen it infiltrate Math, as well. The very concept that education is a matter of transferring data and establishing logical processes is alien to such people: All that matters is the outcome being the one we want and how it is arrived as is unimportant!
Of course, progressives believe their own viewpoints to have been soundly reasoned and beyond reproach. It is not they who are shackled by false ideas that they refuse to evaluate, but everyone else. And so, when Prideaux tried to get me to compromise the definition of education, and to back up the idea that left-wing indoctrination began as a deliberate action by enemies of classical liberalism, I wrote:
Actually, no, I don’t allow that there’s any overlap between education and indoctrination; in fact, I hold the two to be diametrically opposed. It is the difference between observation and evaluation. It does not even matter if the evaluation is correct!
I don’t really have time to go into detail about how this happened but you can see this at Hector’s place to get a sense of what was going on. This is the tail end of the effort (which has no survived the empire itself by over 15 years).
It’s not a small subject and universities are only part of it, but they’re an important part.
If you haven’t checked out Hector’s link, you should: The Soviet Union’s plot to destroy America through subversion was focused on education, media and government. It’s probably the biggest under-reported “open secret” around, and it’ll stay buried because, as Mr. Prideaux said in response:
I understand now.
I mean, seriously, you don’t suggest to someone that they are, in fact, the tool of Stalin’s ghost and expect them to go “Wow! Yeah, that makes sense now!” You don’t expect them to admit that, yeah, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg really were spies, that whatever his personal flaws were, McCarthy wasn’t as paranoid as he’s made out to be, or even something simple, like their hero JFK hated Communists and would’ve found the stances of the modern left to be appalling.
It’s amazing, really, that anyone does.
Although he’s older than I am, this Lilek’s piece about Reagan is representative of how I felt through many of those years. It takes a decade or more for most of us just to shake off the indoctrination and group-think that came from the media air being saturated with a consistently leftist point-of-view.
Leftist indoctrination in education wasn’t nearly as bad back then but leftism saturated the media–there was no talk radio, there would be no right-wing movies until Reagan had been in office a couple of years (and we were also saturated with nuclear war fantasies, like Watchmen), and even hokey conservative TV values were more or less gone (with the notable exception of Mr. Carson). You could say that Reagan created the mind space (via Goldwater) that allowed non-progressive ideas to flourish (and in some cases, i.e., his repeal of the “fairness” doctrine created the real space for it).
If progressivism, leftism, communism, socialism, collectivism, and all these other failed -isms do finally die, I think it will not be with a big revelation. It will be a gradual (and sheepish) movement away from once fiercely held ideas, to the point where, well, you won’t be able to find anyone willing to admit they voted for Obama.